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2024-03-11 00:00:00 Avenue Magazine Four Upper East Side Powerhouse Galleries to Visit This Spring

Four Upper East Side Powerhouse Galleries to Visit This Spring

Inside the UES gallery-go-round
Works by Cara Nahaul and Ross Taylor donned the gallery walls of Alexander Berggruen in the 2022 show "The Natural World: Part II"
Photo by Dario Lasagni, courtesy of Alexander Berggruen

Before the establishment of Chelsea, SoHo, and Tribeca as art world hotbeds, New York’s Upper East Side was at the forefront of the industry for decades. Dealers of art and antiques have operated in the neighborhood for generations, some to this day, including Acquavella Galleries, which is over a century old. As the Upper East Side and the art world developed, blue-chip powerhouses and top galleries opened outposts over the years both temporarily and on a permanent basis.

Today, the Upper East Side is exploding with established and emerging dealers offering the best and newest names in contemporary art, as well as the most coveted figures from generations past. Anchored by august institutions like Gagosian, Mnuchin, David Zwirner, and Hauser & Wirth, and bolstered by foot traffic from the chic stores and world-class museums along Madison and Fifth Avenues — the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Guggenheim, to name two — the area remains a driving force in the art market. And the art world is buzzing with the news that Sotheby’s is opening in the iconic Brutalist building by Marcel Breuer which was formerly the Whitney Museum of American Art. Sotheby’s plans to take over the Breuer building in September 2024.

From blue-chip titans to newcomers with eyes for spotting talent, here are four top Upper East Side galleries to visit this spring.

1002 Madison Avenue

Richard Hunt’s Opposed Forms, 1964, a sculpture of melded stainless steel is now on view at White Cube
Photo courtesy of Richard Hunt

The latest newcomer to the Upper East Side is White Cube, which opened its Madison Avenue doors this past October, adding to its impressive global roster of galleries in London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Seoul. Established over 30 years ago in London, White Cube has become a leading gallery, representing some of the biggest names in contemporary art, such as Julie Mehretu, Damien Hirst, and Tracey Emin, while also stewarding prominent artist estates. This March, White Cube is presenting a solo exhibition of Richard Hunt, the renowned American sculptor who passed away in December of 2023. Working mainly in metal, Hunt had a prolific, six-decade career creating fluid forms that blended abstraction with hints of surrealism, and drew inspiration from science and the natural world. Featuring works from early in the artist’s career, including many from Hunt’s groundbreaking 1971 MoMA solo show — the first time the museum gave an African American sculptor a retrospective — the exhibition offers viewers a close look at the foundations of the late artist’s practice.

24 East 81st Street, 4A

Mel Kendrick’s White Line, 2023, made of EPS foam, currently on view at David Nolan Gallery
Photo by Gary Mamay

A staple of the New York art scene since 1987, David Nolan Gallery established itself with locations in SoHo and Chelsea before making the Upper East Side its home in 2020. In the nearly 40 years since opening, David Nolan Gallery has staged early exhibitions by artists who would go on to become some of the biggest names in modern and contemporary art, including Richard Artschwager, Albert Oehlen, Gerhard Richter, and Rosemarie Trockel. For its first spring show, the gallery is mounting “Cutting Corners,” a solo exhibition of new work by leading American sculptor Mel Kendrick that opens March 7 and runs through April 13. Working in a variety of materials, including cast bronze,wood, concrete, rubber, and resin, Kendrick’s abstract work draws inspiration from minimalist and conceptual art to push the boundaries of form and material. Greatly interested in the artistic process and how we experience sculpture, Kendrick’s works are self-referential and invite viewers to consider each piece in relation to their own bodies.

39 East 78th Street, 2nd Floor

Jessica Valice’s Seated Woman, 2023, which can be seen at Almine Rech
Photo courtesy of Jessica Valice and Almine Rech

With numerous branches throughout Europe and Asia, and both the Upper East Side and Tribeca, Almine Rech has become a top global gallery since its founding in Paris in 1989. In the decades since, Almine Rech has supported the careers of renowned artists like James Turrell, John McCracken, and Jeff Koons, while also fostering the growth of some of the most promising names in contemporary art, including Claire Tabouret and Chloe Wise. This March, the gallery is showcasing works by rising figurative painter Jessica Valice, whose big-eared characters with large, emotive eyes set in heavy eyelids explore elements of the human condition. Simultaneously familiar and foreign, comfortable, and off-putting, romantic and melancholic, Valice’s figures underscore the range of emotions and states that humans are capable of feeling, as well as the inherent subjectivity in deciphering them.

1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3

Ben Walker’s Soviet, 2023, oil on linen, which will be on view at Alexander Berggruen this spring
Image courtesy of Ben Walker and Alexander Berggruen

Launched in 2019, Alexander Berggruen has quickly made a name for itself with a robust program that spans 20th-century and contemporary art. With an eye for emerging talent, Alexander Berggruen has mounted significant exhibitions of rising stars of the industry, including Sholto Blissett, Hulda Guzmán, and Brittney Leeanne Williams. To bring in the spring season, the gallery is staging a group show featuring artists who explore the effects that technology, nature, interpersonal relationships, and material transformations have on mental processes. On view through March 27, the show includes paintings and sculptures by Drew Bennett, Laird Gough, Lyndsey Marko, Alexandria Mento, Dominic Musa, and Ben Walker. Following this thought-provoking presentation is a solo show of landscape paintings by Cara Nahaul entitled “Tender Islands,” which opens April 10 and will be on view until May 8. Inspired by the artist’s own home in the United Kingdom and those of her parents in Mauritius and Malaysia, the new body of work in the show blends real and imagined histories to inspire the viewer to consider how they create their own sense of self.

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